July 01, 2013

Blog over. Infothought RIP 2002 - 2013

Executive Summary ("tl;dr"): It hasn't worked. Google changes were the last straw. Blog over. [sad face image]

[Disclaimer - this is NOT a disguised beg for links. It wouldn't solve any of the structural problems outlined below.]

It's been clear for a long time I've considered blogging to have been a failure, for me. I'll skip reciting again my delusion. In sum, while I treasure the occasional indication that someone has enjoyed something I've written, the practical matter is overall, the net effect on my life is that I have much more to lose than I have to gain. I'm reaching the same tiny audience over and over, and squeaking in a basement does nothing against those who shout from the rooftops. More importantly, protesting from below has been sadly useless when being trashed from the top.

What kept me from ultimately abandoning the blog before was that it'd likely be irrevocable. Once I made such an announcement, there would be no going back. The audience would be gone, never to return. Did I really need to do that? Was it precipitous? Instead, I decided to just limp along, posting every once in a while in order to keep active status in feed readers and similar.

But the readership numbers are now going to be decimated anyway, due to the Google Reader shutdown. While there's other feed readers trying to fill the void, it's well-known that such shifts almost always lead to a big drop. Further, recent Google algorithm changes seem to be unfavorable. That's a complicated topic involving details like "over-optimization" and "negative SEO" and "[codename] Penguin update", etc. However, the key aspect is that there's now many more ways for a small blog to run afoul of Google even by mistake or just as collateral damage in the ongoing web spam-war. I even wonder if Google would _de facto_ punish my site if I continued blogging, since the constant addition of pages which have no links/tweets/likes/plusones/[attention!] might be regarded as a lowering of "quality" (remember, for the all hype, Google is not good at making human-level distinctions between thoughtful material and ad-bait - the proof of that is evident in the results of many searches. And if it's relying on social signals such as the list above, I don't do well there).

And those are the last straws. Let me re-emphasize, it would be wrong to say Google killed my blog. It's more along the lines of, after a long, protracted, lingering decline, Google finally pushed it through death's door.

Note Twitter is no answer. While I've had a Twitter account for a while, if I were to spend much time on Twitter, it strikes me that I'd be making the same mistake as with blogging (anti-strawman - this is for my circumstances, which I do not claim apply to every person categorically). I keep thinking: Not again, not another rat-race on a hamster-wheel. I don't want to get on that treadmill, of endlessly trying to find interesting and entertaining items to convey, attempting to gain "followers". I can't win at that game, and I don't want to play. Worse, it's another "power law curve" environment that structurally favors bullying, as those "high up" can broadcast personal attacks against anyone "below" them, with no way even for the target to effectively reply. It's not for me.

I've pointed out the cruelty of blog-evangelism many times in the past, how it preys on people's desire to be heard. And I don't think I'm immune from that weakness, or the "sunk costs" cognitive fallacy. But there comes a time to recognize when a project has failed. And to stop.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in infothought | at 06:47 PM (Infothought permalink) | Comments (8)